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What is Gamification and How to Win?

What is Gamification? The term started to gain traction in 2011, and it can be characterised as it is the use of game mechanics to engage users and solve problems..

What is Gamification?

The term Gamification started to gain traction in 2011, and it can be characterised as it is the use of game mechanics to engage users and solve problems.  It should not be confused with Game Theory which is a science that touches on, for example, how groups interact, decision making, and situational analysis.

That said, gamification looks set to become more and more refined as an idea or set of ideas. Jane McGonigal, Research and Development Director at the Institute for the Future, stated that “World of Warcraft” players have spent 5.93 billion years playing, i.e. solving problems. She believes that if people worldwide could play more, in the right game scenario, their experience could help solve some of the world’s biggest problems like hunger, poverty and global conflict [McGonigal].

A simpler view is that gamification is about turning something into a game and if you need to change someone’s behaviour [train them], or reinforce good behaviour [motivate them] often the best way to do that is to make the training or motivation fun and engaging [a game] and it is these two aspects that could have the most immediate impact on our businesses, as they stand today.

In truth, this form of gamification has been used for many years by schools and youth organisations such as the scout movement. In the world of work, the armed services are past-masters at using ‘games’ to reinforce instruction for example in the form of training exercises and strategy tuition. Indeed there are many who support the theory that chess originally developed as way of teaching military strategy.

Closer to home and particularly for those of us involved in the contact centre industry; we are all familiar with leader boards.

How does it work?

Gamification is not really about creating the games themselves, we’re not trying to re-invent Ludo, it is about using the attributes of games to improve output. In particular, and this is important in business, it’s about engagement and competition. In a world where it is increasingly difficult to grab and hold anybody’s attention, getting better engagement is a powerful plus for trainers.

Fortunately, the majority of people are, and will remain, competitive and this remains true at work. We all hate being a bottom feeder but we love being top-dog.


Instead of delivering traditional training through textbooks and classroom lectures, more and more organisations are using eLearning to deliver their material, very often because it’s a lot cheaper and far more efficient.

In addition of course, eLearning platforms are absolutely ideal for delivering material in game format. This does not have to be complex or expensive and there are some good companies around who can readily build this kind of content for you, based on your own material. For instance, have a look at the examples provided here by our friends at logicearth learning services.

The material doesn’t have to be over-elaborate to be far more engaging than, for example, PowerPoint with voice over, and it’s streets ahead of a paper exercise book


In truth, gamification uses the motivational techniques we’ve all been using for years; peer recognition and building self-esteem but the key advantages of using digital engagement over physical engagement [a bottle of wine, a gift voucher] are that you can roll it out very quickly to as many participants as you like and without regard to their, or your, physical location, generally at very low cost. Furthermore, it’s infinitely flexible, there is no limit to the size and type of audience or to the different activities you could deploy

Does Gamification actually work?

Supporters of gamification argue that students are motivated by it, citing relevant and timely feedback as well as the fun of collaboration and competition.

LiveOps, a call centre outsourcing firm, claims that adding game elements to reward employees reduced call times by 15% while increasing sales at least 8% and customer satisfaction 9%. They also reduced training time from four weeks to only 14 hours when it added badges and rankings to motivate their workforce.

[Source: Nir and Far]

Check, mate

Gamification has, in many ways, taken forward many of the techniques we have all been using for years and simply made them easier to deploy and measure. That said, as with any management processes it needs to planned carefully and matched closely to the needs of your staff and your organisation.